How does one summarize writings such as the Hindu narrative of the birth of Lord Krishna and the Zen koans compilation known as The Gateless Gate?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To summarize any piece of literature, all you have to do is zero in on the main characters and main events. Think about the following questions as you pick out important details: What's the main purpose of the story? What characters drive the story forward, showing the main purpose of the story? What events drive the story forward, also showing the main purpose of the story? How does the story end? How does the story begin? The answers to all of those questions should help you quickly pinpoint all of the important details, enabling you to quickly summarize what you need to summarize. As we are limited in space, below are a few ideas to help get you stared.

The Hindu story of the birth of Krishna is a story of restoration and salvation, even revenge. When Mother Earth observed that the evil kings and rulers of India were committing sins, she asked Brahma, the Creator, for help, who petitioned the Supreme Lord Vishnu for help. Vishnu promised to be born as a child in India, a child who would grow to defeat the evil kings and rulers, specifically the evil Kamsa, king of Mathura in northern India, making both Lord Vishnu and Kamsa two central characters.

Vishnu arranged for Kamsa's sister Devaki to give birth to Vishnu as her eighth child with her husband Vasudeva, making Devaki and Vasudeva two other central characters. However, when Kamsa heard it was prophesied that his sister's eighth child would crush Kamsa, he imprisoned both his sister and her husband Vasudeva, making their imprisonment one of the central events in the story. Nevertheless, the couple conceived children in prison, and Kamsa killed six out of eight sons. Another major event in the story is the moment Lord Vishnu appeared before the couple and instructed Vasudeva that when the eighth son was born, to go to Vasudeva's friend the cowherd chief Nanda in Gokula and switch the eighth son with the baby girl Nanda's wife Yashoda had just given birth to. After the birth of the eighth son, Vasudeva found that his legs miraculously became unchained, and the prison doors opened for him immediately, allowing him to easily make his way to Nanda's home, which is the next major event in the story. The babies were successfully swapped; Vasudeva safely returned to the prison; and, Kasma rushed in to slaughter the new baby. But before he could kill who was actually the baby girl, the next-to-last major event occurred in the story, which is that she was transformed into the goddess Yogamaya. The final event in the story is that Lord Vishnu, in the form of Devaki and Vasudeva's son Krishna, successfully killed Kasma and all those who were associated with Kasma. Lord Vishnu in the form of Krishna also freed Krishna's parents and put Ugrasen on the thrown as king over Mathura.